To sell or specify?

By Wojciech Brozyna, managing director of Aluprof UK.

Taking a step back and looking at the drivers that enable us to complete the projects we undertake helps us to understand the work we require and how to complete it.

For example, do we look for a quick fix, one that will possibly fail again at some point, or do we look at a permanent fix, something that we can complete and forget, or hopefully have pride in a job well done?

If you take a vertical ribbon glazing requirement over several floors, do we use curtain wall, or do we consider a stacked window system? The curtain wall, correctly specified and installed, could be seen as a permanent fix, while a vertical run of jointed windows could be seen as a quick fix and certainly cheaper. So, do we prioritise the sell and offer the cheapest solution, or do we specify, offering the client the robust and probably correct solution for a long and trouble-free installation? Maybe both approaches could be correct, but we need to determine the client’s requirements.

When a commercial aluminium systems company or installer quotes for a project, they are seen as the specialist. No-one on site will generally question the specification, as long as it is broadly in line with the architect’s design intention unless the main contractor has employed their own facade consultant, or has a full time facade manager involved.

In the absence of this further specialist do we sell or specify? Often to gain an order, some installers will offer the most cost-effective solution based on installation costs but, by looking at the project as a whole and not the system being costed in isolation, a more robust system can be used at a similar cost if the installation was value managed.

Value management looks at every process from order through to completion. In the facade industry the principles of value management have been adopted by Aluprof to deliver competitive installations in conjunction with their extensive network of fabricators and installers.

To begin with, an overview of the complete project programme is needed, with each of the processes and deadlines for completion itemised. It is at this stage that options are discussed. One of the obvious choices is that of the system to be used for the facade, as with other high-end systems companies, Aluprof offers its systems in various designs to meet the needs of the building. An example of this can be seen in Aluprof’s MB-SR50N Curtain Wall system. Far from being a single system there are many options to choose from, which include various insulation levels, capping options or structural arrangements; each choice represents a cost or a cost saving. It’s a little like specifying options on a new car taking the base model of choice as a starting point.

A further consideration is the optimisation of aluminium profile cutting. To reduce waste on fabrication, profiles can be extruded to special lengths, which offers high levels of cutting optimisation, which in turn reduces material waste, which reduces costs. These are just some of the important issues that are reviewed in the value management process, which ensures that the completed project performs exactly as specified and perfectly meets with the clients expectations.

Using BIM to its fullest extent will always ensure that complications are discussed and cleared at very early stages. This again saves cost further down the supply chain. Using BIM reduces the quantity of detailed installation drawings that need to be completed, which complement the BIM model. Aluprof offers a wide range of BIM models that are constantly being revised to offer as much data as can be easily incorporated into a current BIM project.

With a large systems company such as Aluprof, working on the value management of a project at the very early stages, options such as choice of fabrication location can be explored to offer the best value and quality. An example of this could be complex details within a unitised project where a local fabricator could produce all the standard units and where complex – say, curved units – are manufactured competitively elsewhere where specialist equipment is available. The key to any programme would be to add value, not in cost terms, but in quality and time performance. As we are all too aware, time delays on site carry significant costs for both main contractor and consequently sub-contractor.

To ensure that any installation meets site requirements, new profiles can form part of the value management process. New profiles could offer not just a better detail, but new profiles can reduce costs and can reduce the time taken to install on site. At the extreme end of value management is the option of developing an entirely new system to meet a project’s requirement. The experience within the technical team at Aluprof makes this option entirely possible, as it has been done before.

Installation value management could mean that on site teams are chosen with installers who are fully experienced in the exact systems being installed, possibly by making up new teams with highly experienced site agents who know the systems being used very well as they have worked on extensive installations using the same systems.